Garneta Kay (Fishback) Hess of Fountain City, Indiana passed away on the evening of March 6, 2023 from complications due to Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 77.
Kay was born on June 9, 1945 in Hartford City, Blackford County, Indiana. She was the second of three children of Ruth Helen (McColly) and William Garnet Fishback. Kay graduated from Montpelier High School in 1963 and received her Bachelor's Degree for music education from Indiana University in 1967. She continued with her education and received a Master's Degree in music from Ball State University in 1969, specializing on the organ as her instrument. Kay shared her knowledge and skills in a career of education with the Lafayette Indiana and Fayette County Indiana School Systems where she was an elementary school music teacher for over 30 years. Upon her retirement in 2008, she had established a beloved drumming group in which she directed two dozen children who performed rhythms on traditional drums, cane sticks, and foot stomping all to the delight of the school audiences.
As children, Kay and her two brothers attended to farm chores, caring for the animals and gathering the eggs from approximately 6000 chickens which her father raised. She often reminded her three children that "those chickens put me through college." In high school, she was a member of a rural youth group where she met her future husband Ron, and they were wedded August 23, 1968.
Kay was a long-standing member of Chester Heights United Methodist Church of Richmond when it closed and transferred her membership to Central United Methodist soon thereafter. She was the organist for many years and also performed occasional organ recitals for the community.
While at Chester Heights, she was introduced to the Operation Classroom mission that became her life-long passion. She both participated in and led 16 mission trips to the west African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Kay's enthusiasm for this mission led her to perform many antics and stunts to raise money for the mission. It was through this funding that the mission was able to erect schools, provide school supplies, hire teachers, and create educational opportunities for hundreds of children in those countries.
Kay was preceded in death by her parents William and Helen Fishback. Kay is survived by her husband of 54 years, Ronald Hess of Fountain City, and her three children, Arthur (Deborah) Hess of Milford, Michigan; Andrew (Natalie) Hess of Pennsville, New Jersey; and Anna Hess of Fountain City; as well as eight grandchildren; and her two brothers Roger (Pat) Fishback of Tennessee and Richard (Suzie) Fishback of Hartford City, Indiana.
A public visitation with the family will be held from 12 - 2 PM on Saturday, April 1st, 2023 at Central United Methodist Church, 1425 E Main St., Richmond, IN 47374. A memorial service will be held immediately following the visitation. Interment at the Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Muncie, IN will be private at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Kay's name to:
Operation Classroom, 502 N Franklin St., Valparaiso, IN 46383 www.operationclassroom.org